RAF Masirah


Located in the Indian Ocean some 19 Km off the coast of Oman, in the extreme north of an island of the same name, RAF Masirah was an important refuelling station for aircraft flying between Khormaksar and Bahrain throughout the fifties and early sixties. Until then, most of the fuel and ration requirements were delivered by sea and a unique RAF operated narrow-gauge railway between November and February only, as it became difficult for ships to dock during the south-west monsoon period (March to October). Following the construction of a concrete runway in 1963/4, however, stores were able to be flown in and the station was used increasingly by detachments of MEC Hunter squadrons and, after the closure of Muharraq and Sharjah in 1971, it became the major route station between Cyprus and Gan for aircraft flying to the Far East. When it finally closed in March 1977, it was sold and taken over by the Omani Air Force.

The following gallery contains images taken on the station by Tom Banks and the Author while awaiting the arrival of a 105 Squadron Argosy to fly members of 8 Squadronís groundcrew, who had been dropped (not literally) off at Masirah by a Muharraq-based Beverley at the end of a two-month detachment, back to Khormaksar. The Beverley was scheduled for a para-drop back at Muharraq and was unable to take the airmen all the way down.

Atmospheric view of 84 Sqn Beverley, XM110, at Masirah while transporting 8 Sqn groundcrew on detachment to Bahrain in 1961 (Herbie Nute)

This is the aircraft that was destroyed by a terrorist bomb at Bahrain later in the year.

The shadow of Beverley XH123 on the approach to Masirah on 30-12-63, while flying 8 Squadron airmen back to Khormaksar (author)

84 Squadron Beverley C.1, XH123, at Masirah on 30-12-63, having flown 8 Squadron airmen from Muharraq for transfer to 105 Squadron Argosy, XP411, and the final leg to Khormaksar (author)

Having just arrived at Masirah, Jock Harman, ANOther and ??? Bullen enter Pop's Cafe for some liquid refreshment (Tom Banks)

Two views looking across the camp ............ (Tom Banks)

............ from a set of aircraft access steps (Tom Banks)

Jock Harman climbs the aircraft steps to take photographs of Masirah camp (Tom Banks)

Expansion and modernisation of Masirah was in the initial stages at the end of 1963 (Tom Banks)

Within a year, MEC Hunter squadrons were able to undertake detachments to the station from Khormaksar and Bahrain.

Another view of 105 Sqn Argosy, XP411, this time being refuelled prior to taking the 8 Sqn detachment down to Khormaksar (Tom Banks)

Masirah on 30-12-63, and 105 Squadron Argosy, XP411, has just arrived to fly 8 Squadron groundcrew down to Khormaksar at the end of their Muharraq detachment (author)

Having a closer proximity for operations in Oman and being a better location for carrying out training exercises, Masirah became a regular base for detachments of MEC Hunters and a selection of photographs are contained in the gallery below.

Having just arrived at Masirah, 43 Squadron pilots are greeted with a cool beer while the airmen get to work on their aircraft, 1965 (Roger Wilkins)

The officers are: John Thomson, John Sweet (OC Masirah), Roger Wilkins, a GLO, Alan Pollock, Phil Champniss (OC 43 Sqn), Ron Loader (EO) and Ron Burrows.

XE620-R of 43 Squadron at Masirah in June, 1965 (author's collection)

XF456-S of 43 Squadron at Masirah in June, 1965 (author's collection)

XF460-DB of 1417 Flight at Masirah in June, 1965 (author's collection)

XG169-K of 43 Squadron at Masirah in June, 1965 (author's collection)

XJ645-N of 43 Squadron at Masirah in June, 1965 (author's collection)

XL612-T of 8 Squadron at Masirah in 1967 (author's collection)

Of interest is the Arabian dagger on the nosewheel door

The 8 Squadron line in this view at Masirah in October 1970 comprises Hunter T.7s, FGA.9s and FR.10s (Ken Parry)

8 Squadron FR.10 over the mountains of Oman in 1970 (Ken Parry)